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A Prediction About Election Predictions

By: Tuesday October 28, 2014 2:14 pm

A week out from the election I have a prediction about the professional election predictors. They are going to be accurate because our federal elections have become extremely predictable. If you know absolutely nothing about the Senate races except for the results of the 2012 Presidential election, you could end up predicting between 80-97 percent of all Senate races correctly this year.

Based on just this information, you would predict the Republicans would end up with 51 seats. The only race you would likely be off is Maine, where in a small state the surprisingly popular long time incumbent Republican Senator Susan Collins substantially bucks the trend. It is also possible this analysis might end up wrong in Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Georgia and Kansas. Given that CO, NC, and IA were all presidential swing states in 2012 and Kansas is the rare example of an election without a Democrat, that is remarkably accurate. Overall, this basic analysis will get the vast majority of seats correct.

Look at the results of a recent single pollster predicting only a marginal improvement over this basic prediction that could have been made over two years ago. The only states where the Yougov polls diverges from the 2012 Presidential results are in Maine, North Carolina, and sort of Iowa where the race is tied.

A basic polling average, like RealClearPolitics’, is likely better but still produces only very minor refinement. Its results diverge from what is predicted by the 2012 election only in Maine, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, and Kansas.

Finally, even though 538 includes some extra data and calculations in their analysis based on “fundamentals,” their overall prediction is effectively identical to RCP. They only diverge from the 2012 election in Maine, North Carolina, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, and sort of Georgia which they have at 50/50.

2012 Presidential Difference YouGov Difference RCP Difference 538
Democratic CO, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NM, OR, RI, VA NC NC, KS NC, KS, GA (tied)
Republican AK, AL, AR, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MS, MT, NC, NE, OK, OK, SC, SC, SD, TN, TX, WV, WY ME, IA (tied) ME, CO, IA, ME, CO, IA,

The fact that all the election predictors are likely to be proved accurate on Tuesday sadly says less about their skills and more about the state of our democracy. Both parties have worked together to create election rules that overwhelmingly favor only two political parties, leaving us with only a few truly competitive elections and very limited democratic accountability.

Things Are Not Looking Good for Democrats

By: Tuesday October 28, 2014 10:32 am

We are now entering the final stretch of the election and things continue to look bad for the Democratic Party. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll is just about all bad news for the Democrats.

The big number is the generic ballot. Among likely voters, 50 percent prefer the Republican party while only 44 percent prefer the Democratic party.

In addition, we see that President Obama’s job approval rating remains very bad. Only 42 percent of likely voters approve of how he is handling his job, while 56 percent disapprove.

Finally, political engagement is way down significantly this year. During the last midterm, 76 percent of registered voters said they were following the election closely, but only 68 percent are closely following it this year. This is likely also bad news for the Democratic party because their coalition is made up of  much younger and less reliable voters than the GOP base. Low turnout tends to help Republicans.

Combined with a very unfavorable Senate map, it is not surprising that most indicators point to Democrats losing the Senate.

Nationalization of Politics Continues: South Dakota Senate Looking Safe for the GOP

By: Monday October 27, 2014 11:17 am
Larry Pressler

Independent Larry Pressler has seen his star fade as election day draws nearer

There was a brief moment where it possibly looked like the unusual three-way Senate race in South Dakota could create an indirect opening for Democrats, but that moment is over. Two polls released this weekend show Republican Mike Rounds with a double digit lead.

The Marist/NBC poll has Rounds with 43 percent among likely voters, Democrat Rick Weiland at 29 percent and Independent Larry Pressler with just 16 percent.

The CBS News/New York Times/YouGov poll found nearly identical results. In that poll of likely voters Rounds has 38 percent, Weiland stands at 25 percent and Pressler is in third with 17 percent.

It is still possible we could see some last minute swing towards Weiland. Independent candidates tend to drop off as election day nears with their supporters deciding instead to vote strategically, but Rounds’ lead at the moment is so large even if that happens it shouldn’t make a difference.

It looks like the people of South Dakota realized they primarily prefer the Republican party and the best indicator of how a member will vote in Congress is their partisan alignment. The big theme of this election is the nationalization of our politics. The Senate races seem to be breaking almost perfectly based on partisan preference in each state.

GA Sen: Democrat Michelle Nunn Has Narrow Lead

By: Friday October 24, 2014 10:06 am

If there is one bright spot for Senate Democrats this year it is Georgia. Every poll in the last week has found Michelle Nunn with a small lead over Republican David Perdue. Nunn is performing much better than you would expect a Democrat to in a state won by Mitt Romney in 2012 when the [...]

Voters Like Democrats But Think They Are Incompetent

By: Thursday October 23, 2014 2:44 pm

On a personal level the American people just seem to like the Democratic party better than the Republican party. Not only does the Democratic party have better favorable numbers than the Republican party; but according to Pew Research register voters also see Democrats as the more ethical party, the party more willing to work across [...]

Scott Brown Is Proof All Politics Is Now National

By: Thursday October 23, 2014 11:21 am

There is no better sign that our federal politics are becoming dominated by strong coherent parties than the unusual career of Republicans Scott Brown. He was elected senator in Massachusetts during a special election but lost in the next general. After looking around for other offices to run for in the state, he decided to [...]

New Poll Gives Republicans Eight Point Lead in Generic Ballot Due to Low Democratic Turnout

By: Wednesday October 22, 2014 9:58 am

The news for Democrats is not looking good. The latest AP-GfK poll found Republicans with an eight point lead in the generic ballot among likely voters. This is the largest lead for Republicans in any generic ballot poll this year. If the election was held today 32 percent of likely voters would back the Democratic [...]

For Conservatives It Is all About Fox News

By: Tuesday October 21, 2014 10:18 am

The number of places conservatives in this country get their news is remarkably narrow and consists mainly of Fox News, and to a small degree talk radio. From Pew: In addition, while Liberals and Mixed tend to trust all the other major news networks (CNN, ABC News, NBC News and CBS News) except Fox News, [...]

Hating the Other Party Really Drives Turnout

By: Friday October 17, 2014 3:37 pm

Hate is a great motivator in American politics. The more regular voters dislike the opposing political party, the more likely they are to actually vote. According to Pew Research, 49 percent of Republicans or Republican-leaning voters are likely to vote this year; but among those who hold a very unfavorable view of the Democratic party, 65 [...]

People of Kentucky Apparently Just Realized They’ve Been Voting Republican for Decades

By: Friday October 17, 2014 9:44 am

This chart shows why the DSCC’s decision to pull out of the Kentucky Senate race was inevitable for months. From Gallup: Remarkably, until just last year a plurality of people in Kentucky considered themselves leaning-Democrat even though they have not supported a Democrat for President or Senate in roughly two decades and the state has [...]

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